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Last updated: 31 October, 2022
Expert travel writer: Nicky Swallow

The historic Helvetia & Bristol enjoys a fabulously central location and offers sumptuous rooms, bags of atmosphere and top-notch service.

Opened in 1885, the hotel has been updated and modernised without sacrificing its grand, old-world feel (expect antiques, old master paintings and gorgeous fabrics), but it’s all been given a stylish modern take.

Celebrated Florentine restaurant Cibreo has several outlets in the hotel and there’s a lovely pavement café and bar for warm-weather lunches and aperitivi. A new, vast spa opened in spring 2022.

If shopping is your thing, it lies a two-minute sashay from the designer stores of Via Tornasbuoni, and top sights are all within a 10-minute walk.

Surrounding area

Step out of the door and you are in the  heart of old Florence, surrounded by tall, grand old buildings and frequented by elegant Florentine ‘signoras’ on shopping trips and business folk. This is an area of limited traffic access, so it’s not too noisy.

Pop around the corner to atmospheric old Procacci, a historic café famous for its tiny, delicate truffle sandwiches, best sampled with a glass of the house (Antinori) fizz.

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Key facilities

Airport transfers*
Beach: None
Fitness centre
Fitness classes
Golf course
Hot tub
: Nearby *
Pool (adults only)
Pool (indoor)
Pool (outdoor)
Pool (kids)
Tennis courts
WiFi: Free

Food & drink

All inclusive
Kids menu
Restaurant on-site
Self catering
Additional charge

Room types


Room facilities

Air conditioning
Flat screen TV
Jacuzzi (private)
Pool (private)
Tea & coffee making facilities

Bedding options

2+ bedrooms
3+ beds
Connecting rooms
Rollaway/sofa bed

Bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Baptistery of St. John

Baptistery of St. John

Florence, Tuscany, Italy[0.3 miles]

The octagonal, Romanesque Baptistery, thought to originate in the Dark Ages, is one of Florence’s oldest buildings. It is famous for its three sets of ornate bronze doors although the ones you see today are copies (the originals are in the Cathedral Works Museum).

Best for ages: 18+ | £4

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Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest, closest first

Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi

Florence, Tuscany, Italy[0.1 miles]

This 16th-century palazzo is home to one of Italy’s most innovative public art galleries. Rotating exhibitions showcase artists as diverse as Jeff Koons, Ai Wei-Wei and Bill Viola and Bronzino, Donatello and Pontormo. The ‘Strozzino’ gallery in the basement focuses on contemporary art and peripheral cultural events.

Best for ages: 18+ | £13

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Scoppio del Carro

Scoppio del Carro

Florence, Tuscany, Italy[0.2 miles]

This traditional Easter festival sees a towering cart laden with fireworks pulled through the city by white oxen accompanied by a procession of flag throwers and drummers in colourful Renaissance garb. In Piazza del Duomo, a mechanical dove swoops down from the cathedral to light the blue touchpaper.

Best for ages: 10+ | Free | 1 day

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HZERO Model Railway Collection

HZERO Model Railway Collection

Florence, Tuscany, Italy[0.3 miles]

An ex-cinema houses the fabulous private model railway collection belonging to the late Marchese di San Giuliano. The centrepiece is a 280-square metre model, one of the largest in Europe; the landscaping (from mountains to seascapes) is exquisite.

Best for ages: 4+ | £12

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night view of Old Palace (Palazzo Vecchio) in Florence, Italy

Palazzo Vecchio

Florence, Tuscany, Italy[0.4 miles]

This imposing palace on Piazza della Signoria has been at the centre of power in Florence since its construction in 1299 and still functions as the town hall. Now partly a museum, its sumptuously decorated rooms reveal magnificent frescoes, coffered ceilings and hidden chambers. Book skip-the-line tickets online here.

Best for ages: 18+ | £8

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Destination guides including or relevant to this place to stay


Tuscany, Italy

The astonishingly beautiful region of Tuscany has it all: art cities and ancient hill towns, high mountains and long sandy beaches, alongside luxurious hotels and some of Italy’s best food and wine.

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